SCDI set for rebrand to provide ‘greater visibility’

Sara Thiam
Sara Thiam: we need to reach a new audience

One of Scotland’s oldest think tanks is due to announce a major makeover that will include a new name.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry, or SCDI, will reveal its rebrand in the coming weeks following consultation with stakeholders and a marketing agency.

Chief executive Sara Thiam told Daily Business the change of identity was to “ensure we bring SCDI to a new audience and to better reflect what we do”.

She said membership was rising and the organisation was on a better financial footing but it required “greater visibility”. She has hired Sabrina Allan from the housing sector as head of communications.

Founded in 1931, SCDI differs from other “trade” groups in having a more eclectic membership and a broader role in influencing government thinking. Its members are drawn from business, local authorities, trade unions, voluntary and third sector organisations and in some cases have opposing views.

Two years ago it was forced into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) because of a legacy issue that left it short of cash to cover its pension commitments and which threatened the organisation’s existence.

Ms Thiam took over as CEO in June 2019 and following the CVA reshaped the team and launched a 10-year strategy.

Speaking ahead of next week’s annual forum in Edinburgh, she said the full name of the organisation was “a bit of a mouthful” and dated. There was a mistaken view that it was a public sector organisation.

Ms Thiam, who sits on the Scottish Government’s New Deal for Business group, said the new name would not be revealed at the forum which is billed as “Scotland’s Davos”.

It will be attended by a number of leading figures from politics, business and academia, including First Minister Humza Yousaf and Jonathan Reynolds, Labour Shadow Secretary for Business and Industrial Strategy. Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, will deliver the keynote speech on Tuesday.

Although it is being held at the Gogarburn “headquarters” of NatWest group, formerly Royal Bank of Scotland, the chief executive of the bank Dame Alison Rose will address delegates via a virtual link.

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